Friday, November 30, 2012

But wait, there's more!

I know I just posted about the 4 new Pacific Northwest New Rattitude foster dogs who arrived on Sunday but we've got a double transport this week!  Here are 4 more kiddos who will be arriving late tonight.

Isi is a sweet 2 yr old tiny little gal who loves everyone she meets - dogs and humans alike.  She weighs just around 8 pounds and will be fostered in Bellevue, Washington.

Klipsun is a 6 month old chocolate tri-color Rat Terrier pup who weighs about 7 pounds. He is said to be goofy and sweet natured and we can't wait to meet this chocolatey delicious guy. He'll be fostered in Seattle, Washington.

Vespa (left) was surrendered to a high kill shelter with a couple other pups.  Because she was born without one of her hind feet she was tagged as being rescue only. New Rattitude was contacted about her and one of our California volunteers pulled her from the shelter for us. We hear that even though she has one less foot, she's the fastest pup of this bunch.  She's 7 months old, weighs about 7 pounds, and will be fostered in Snohomish, Washington.

And last but not least, Apple!  Apple was scheduled to be euthanized but New Rattitude's Lynn learned about her from shelter staff and was able to save her and get her on this transport north at the last minute. Apple weighs about 6 pounds and will be fostered in Federal Way, Washington. 

Can't wait to meet this bunch of tinies!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Find it - in a crate

Often dogs are less than excited about crate time and Neah is one of those dogs who doesn't like volunteering to go into her crate.  She is a teenager pup and I always visualize her rolling her eyes at me and saying "Bo-ring" when I need her to have some crate time. However, I've got a little trick to get her in the crate without having to force her in against her will. Like all teenager, sometimes you have to approach an issue from another angle to get them to do what you want them to do and still keep the peace.

Neah, sniffing around for kibble in her crate
There's a game called "find it" that has lots of different uses in working with dogs but in this case the dog is going to find the treasure in their crate.  I take a small amount of kibble - for Neah and Langley it only takes about 5 pieces - and once I manage to get the dog close to the crate I scatter the kibble pieces inside the crate and say "find it".  For most dogs this works like a charm. If your dog isn't as food motivated as Neah and Langley are, you can use a super special treat that only gets used when crating.  Anyhow, the idea is the dog scoots inside and starts searching for the kibble and then I close the door behind them.  Typically they are too busy finding kibble in their blankets/bed that they don't even mind. 

Then I follow this up by giving them something to keep them busy for awhile so they associate the crate with yummy fun things.  Have a favorite toy that is only used during crate time, or save bully sticks or stuffed frozen kongs for crate time. When Frodo was a puppy all I had to say was "chicken" and he'd tear into his crate because he knew he was about to get some chicken jerky - a special crate treat.

The end result is a dog who actually starts to love crate time. For ideas about how to get your dog to find crate time more enjoyable, check out the DVD by Susan Garrett, Crate Games.  The video not only teaches how to get your dog to love their crate, but other self control lessons that can be taught using a crate.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Rat Terriers you ask? Cuz Frodo's the MAN!

I often get the question "what made you choose Rat Terriers?" You have to realize that if a person asks that question they have never had the joy of having a rat terrier as a family member. To have one is to love one, and quite possibly to be aggravated with them at the same time.

My answer to the question "why Rat Terriers?" is "Frodo".  He is the reason that I do what I do. Is he perfect? No way. He's irritating, loud, a bit snarky, and has acted like an old curmudgeon since puppyhood, but I wouldn't want him any other way.  He's travelled all over the West with us - backpacked, canoed, camped and hiked even though he hates to get his feet dirty (or God forbid wet!) He's filled up our hearts in a way we never thought was possible.

Baby Frodo: 8 weeks old
We did all the things that make me roll my eyes at applicants wanting a young puppy. Frodo was an 8 week old pup, purchased from a breeder (at least we did research and visited the breeder before buying him) and our reasoning was we didn't want to get a messed up dog. Oh, and he was a gift for our son's 12th birthday. While I did do research into the breed, I'll admit that the cuteness sucked me in. I had no clue about rescue and was pretty clueless about pet overpopulation.  I just wanted a cute pup and I wanted him now.

So on Christmas Eve 7 years ago we brought home an 8 week old Frodo and by the time he was 8 weeks and 1 day old we were completely smitten with him. By the end of our first year with him I decided I wanted to help rescue other Rat Terriers and so our journey began.

Frodo hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail in Mount Rainier National Park
On a hike along the Skagit River in Newhalem, WA
Catching some zzz's in the tent on a camping trip

In Hells Canyon National Recreation Area during one of our many road trips

Since then we've fostered over 70 dogs and it all started because Frodo shared with us the absolute awesome sauce that is the Rat Terrier!  I know that if he had it his way he'd be an only dog but on occasion he does slip up and actually enjoy playing with a foster dog or two. So thanks sweet Frodo for being such a great ambassador of the breed.  His blend of intelligence and strong bond to our family is amazing and he singlehandedly has turned me from a person who wasn't even sure they wanted to have a dog to a crazy dog lady.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Time outs

Monday was one of those days I'd love to forget - a day full of chaos and crap (literally), piss and dreams of a dog free home.  Actually the drama started late Sunday night when I met the transport of new Washington foster dogs.

Shorty, fully loaded, frightened and wondering why this complete stranger was pulling him by the collar out of a crate let loose.  I didn't realize he was letting loose until the warm pee had soaked through my jeans and the sleeves of my thick polar fleece jacket. At that point I turned him to face out and we turned into a living version of one of those peeing cherub fountains. With real pee though. And there we stood for what felt like forever, me trying to keep hold of him since he had only a loose collar and no lead on at that point.

Thankfully little Balboa was angelic because after unloading him we pulled Cody off the van. Cody has a long history of being a scared and misunderstood dog.  He was transferred to New Rattitude to be fostered with Blair Meek of Merry Paws Training, in the hopes that we can help get him to adoptable.  Cody was understandably freaked out from losing the first family he connected to and then having a long drive in a van full of dogs. Since Cody does have a bite history his crate couldn't be opened.  It was just loaded into the back of our CRV.

Cody in his double gated laundry room "den"
By the time we got home it was 12:30 am.  Cody was gated into the laundry room where he proceeded to lift his leg and unload 24 hours of piss on my washing machine.  So I cleaned that up while he paced the room and growled. I'll be honest - he scared the hell out of me and I didn't enjoy sharing a little 5 x 8 food room with him. Then it was into the shower to wash off all the pee and dog stink and to bed at 1:45am.

Shorty and Balboa were handed off early monday morning so when I came home from work it was the normal crew of 4 plus Cody in the laundry room. After 30 minutes of trying, Cody was lassoed with a slip lead and we went outside for a potty break.  It was a bit stressful for both of us.  Then Langley, Neah and Frodo went out.  Langley in his excitement had peed the crate.  I set to cleaning that up and Frodo, freaked by all the stressed out energy, peed on the dining room table leg.  So, I cleaned that up, picked up Tilly to bring her outside.

This is where it got ugly. Langley, for the first time out off leash since early August, pushed past me into the back yard and went into full compulsive poop eating mode.  I spent 45 minutes attempting to catch him while he snarfed down about 2 cups of rotting crap in the lower inaccessible flower beds.  The end result was me with a sprained thumb, twisted ankle (it's very steep and slippery down there), ruined coat, crap encrusted tennis shoe and a flailing Langley. I was talking to myself as we went back in the house and saying "don't kill the dog, don't kill the dog" like some twisted mantra.

Oh, and then I went into the kitchen and stepped in a turd that Tilly had left behind.  It was one of those rare days when everything seemed to go wrong and the result we me frustrated, angry and really disliking dogs. I was in desperate need of a time out so I didn't undo in anger all the work I've done to help these dogs understand people are not angry, crazy unpredictable beasts.

Everyone got crated with frozen kongs for dinner and I went downstairs with a big glass of wine, Italian crackers and herbed chevre, my laptop and the intent to not leave the basement until about midnight. 

And it worked.  Today the dog lover is back, on the floor in the laundry room telling Cody that he's okay and doesn't need to growl, wrestling with Langley and Neah, hanging out in the kitchen with Frodo and Tilly so they get some foster free quiet time. Sometimes it takes a long time out to get back on track.  I highly recommend them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The new crew...

These guys were supposed to arrive last week but they ended up bumped from the trip because of overbooking.  That's okay because they're here now! Here's the next crew of Northwest New Rattitude kiddos - 3 in Washington and 1 in Oregon.  Be sure to keep watching because we will be having new rescues arriving at the end of this week and then next week as well.

Balboa is a small 1 year old, male, pearl tricolor Rat Terrier mix and weighs about 10 pounds. He's said to be sweet and cuddly and very laid back.  This teensy man hails from the Kings County shelter in Hanford, California. Balboa will be fostered in Seattle, Washington. Follow him on his mom's foster blog, A Day in the Life of a New Rattitude Foster Dog.

Sullivan is a 2 year old male, tri-color Rat Terrier and weighs about 16 pounds. He too is a sweet friendly boy and if I remember correctly he is from the Central California SPCA shelter in Fresno, California. He'll be fostered in Amity, Oregon.

Shorty is a goofy, inquisitive 8-10 month old male Rat Terrier mix and weighs about 10 pounds. He's a feisty little guy who's all terrier 'tude. He was another stray from the CCSPCA in Fresno, I believe. Shorty will be fostered in Yakima, Washington. Follow him on his foster mom's blog, Yapitude in Yakima.

Cody is a 16 pound male, tri-color Rat Terrier. He was rescued by a no kill shelter that meant well but unfortunately was keeping him in a smallish kennel are with several large beagles who bullied him. This went on for months and months and when the shelter went closed its doors and the dogs were possibly going to end up back in a kill shelter, a foster parent with ACT rescue in Fresno took him in, in spite of the fear reactiveness he had developed during his time in the shelter.  She has worked with him for about 7 months and he's come a long way but needs a little more work with a trainer. He's been transferred to New Rattitude where he'll be fostered by one of our foster parents who also happens to be a positive trainer. We are hoping for things to continue to get better for this boy. Cody will be fostered in Snohomish, Washington. Follow him on his foster mom's blog, Merry Paws - Fostering and Training.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Puzzling till their puzzlers were sore...

We had a fun time with puzzles yesterday evening with Neah and Langley.  Neah tried the Twister on the easy setting for the first time.  After playing the puzzle with Langley it was nice to watch a less intense introduction with her.  If you watched Langley do the Twister in a former post you can see how much less frantic she is about it.  It's not that she's less food motivated - this girl loves her treats!  It's just she doesn't go from "I don't get it" to all out frantic panic like Langley does. 

She also checks in with her humans when she gets confused, which is not only adorable, but is a sign of how the human/dog connection comes naturally to her in a way that it doesn't to Langley.  She knew there was food in the puzzle and tried for a bit and then you'll see her come to me and give kisses in hopes that I'll free up the treats, since I'm typically the giver of treats here. A little later she tries her luck with Troy. At around 50 seconds she figures out how to slide it and then quickly empties the rest out. Good girl, Neah!

I discovered that the Twister puzzle really had two levels: easy and hard.  Langley got so excited and hyperfocused on the "one way" he thought it should be solved (sliding) that he couldn't slow down for the step of pulling the locks out to allow tiles to slide. We needed something that had the two steps: unlock and slide, but that was easier. So of course this gave me a reason to buy another puzzle.

Today I came home from work with another Nina Ottosson puzzle: The Brick.  The Brick is rated a medium skill level and the "bone locks" in this one are much easier to pop out than the ones in the Twister.
This was definitely a good next step for Langley. He quickly figured it out but we'll keep doing this one for awhile until he really connects that the bone needs to come out for the sliders to work.  Once he is really used to this two step pattern, we'll go back to the Twister with the locks in place. Langley has a very low tolerance for frustration so we'll need to slowly step up the levels of difficulty with him.
I highly recommend trying out some interactive puzzles with your dog.  If you happen to live in the Seattle area, the All The Best natural pet supply stores usually have several of these out that you can try with your dog and see if you like them or not. If you want to learn more about the puzzles then check out . At the bottom of the page are links to YouTube videos of the different games being played so you can get a feel for how they work.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Triple Spin

L-R: Neah, Langley and Frodo
There are enough terriers in this house that it can be tough to find a time to give a particular dog training time by themselves.  Especially since we do a lot of impromptu, short training sessions when one (or a few) of the dogs need something to focus on. 

Langley and Neah, getting some lap time
Troy was attempting to read a book and kept ending up with a lap full of spotted dogs and not necessarily because they wanted to kick back and relax.  So I grabbed the treat bag and clicker off the table and decided to do a little training since they all love that.
The classic Neah pose: "Please give me a treat. PLEASE?!!!"

I actually was wanting to work with Neah because she's been coming along on her "spin" and has moved from needing a full lure to only a partial lure and I want to really cement it in her brain.  As you can see though, Frodo and Langley were very eager to join in and show that they too know how to spin - no lure needed.

So while it may be better to do one on one training, at least everyone was having fun.  It also teaches Frodo that the treats don't come his way until his mouth shuts - barking is very much a bad habit for that boy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Going in for the steal

We have a lot of antlers lying around for the dogs to chew on and there always seems to be a favorite that everyone else wants.  The rest tend to lie there unloved until they get their turn at being the "best antler ever!" for a day.
Langley sitting back and coveting Neah's antler

Neah tends to like the antlers more than the other dogs in the house do and she will usually get a couple and go lay down on a dog bed to have a good chew.

Her and Langley have a game going where he will steal whichever the "best antler ever!" is for that particular day and back and forth the antler goes.  If Langley doesn't realize Neah wants to play this game, she'll go up to him with the antler, push it on the side of his mouth and then walk back nonchalantly to her bed and get back to chewing. 

Of course Langley usually takes the challenge.  Sometimes the end up walking around, each with 1/2 the antler in their mouth hoping the other will loosen their hold on it a bit. Rarely do either of them get grumbly about - it's all part of the fun. 

In this video Neah was tired of the game and just wanted her 2 favorite antlers for awhile.  Langley, after several failed attempts to get the one in her mouth snuck in to steal the small one in front of her.  Neah calmly set her current antler down and went over to claim her second choice. 

I probably should have just left them to figure it out on their own but I felt bad for Langley at this point and ended up putting them both in their crates - each with an antler - so they could just quietly chew for awhile.  As expected, Langley wasn't really interested in chewing - he just wanted what Neah had.  So he took a good nap while Neah chewed in peace.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Neah's Thanksgiving

Today Neah is having quite the adventure.  She started out after breakfast getting to go on a walk on a city trail and met a great dog named Atticus. 
Neah and Atticus
Atticus was a sweet guy and by the end of the walk Neah was pretty interested in walking by him. He has a very handsome gray mohawk that you can't see in this photo but that is adorable.
Atticus' mom gave me 2 sweet potato slices for Neah and Langley to work on and Neah went straight to work when we got home.  (forgive the blurry photos - chewing is busy work that my camera can't keep up with.)
Double nom!
Finally after some play time with Langley and some snuggly reading time she is now all ready for dinner when she'll get her Thanksgiving kong stuffed with green beans, turkey/cranberry pate, and some pumpkin puree. Yum!
Snuggly reading time
Neah doing a good job at being a lap warmer extraordinaire

Go Team!

When I pause to think of what I am most thankful for in my rescue work, there is so much that comes to mind, but first and foremost is New Rattitude's NW team of volunteers that I am so blessed to work with.  In this group of people there are acquaintances, great friends, and even some people who probably aren't really fond of each other, and yet everyone is willing to give what they can of themselves because their focus is the dogs.

One of my rescue jobs is "state coordinator".  I share the job with my close friend (thank goodness!), and my side of the job focuses on choosing which dogs to rescue, which of our 10 foster homes the dogs will best fit in, and getting them transported to the foster homes.  It takes a lot of juggling to make sure new rescue dogs are arriving right when current fosters are going to forever homes. Or if they get here a few days early they have a place to stay for a few days.

The goal is to have as little time as possible between when an adopted dog goes home and the next rescue moves into their spot because the more efficiently we can work, the more dogs we'll be able to save over the year. Like any good team, there's a "play board" to keep track of what's going on and who's going where and when they are going and how they are headed there.  It's ridiculously full of symbols, and color coding and a variety of sections to track current foster dogs, applications, transports, dogs still in the shelter but being tracked...
The NW Team "Play Board"
And sadly, it has to pass as art in my dining room since I like to work where I can keep an eye on the dogs which means my office is a storage room for dog blankets and equipment and my dining room is an office. Yes, we pretty much live and breathe dogs here.
Rescue Central: the dining room "office"

At times the NW team gets so busy that even with my compulsive organizing I can't keep up with everything and I drop the ball. Or sometimes the unexpected emergency crops up.  Whatever the case I know there are always volunteers available who have my back.

 There is so much dedication here to save these dogs - every one willing to pitch in and give a little extra when it is needed - driving long distances to get a home visit done so a dog can get home, temping a dog who needs out of the shelter ASAP when they are already living in a house overloaded with terriers, transporting a dog over the mountains in winter when no one really wants to be driving up there unless it's for a ski vacation... The list goes on and on.

So a big thank you to my NW NR peeps who continue to make working in rescue enjoyable and fun. While it isn't always a smooth ride, we get the job done and then some.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Langley starts twisting...

Recently Langley had a visit from Behavioral Veterinarian, Dr. Louisa Beal.  I learned a lot and we are putting some of the things she taught us into play and seeing some results already. One of those results is he is now sleeping through the night. (Bless you, Dr. Beal.)
Langley, working the Twister puzzle on the easy setting

One of the things we talked about was brain exercise vs. body exercise.  While exercising a dog's body is important, it is only one part of keeping a highly intelligent, high energy dog busy. Dog's like Langley also need a brain work out. Helping them work out their brain can be nearly as energy draining as a brisk walk.
Playing with the Magic Mushroom, a food dispensing toy

While we have a ton of food dispensing toys like the Kong Wobbler, Petsafe Mushroom, Starmark Pickle Pocket, Buster Cube, etc.  I've never really used the true puzzles with my dogs. My dog Frodo tends to attempt the quickest possible way to the food which often involves chewing into it or breaking it apart to get inside.  I mean why take the time to do a puzzle to open something up when you can just smash it open?

Dr. Beal thought I should try some out with Langley so the other day I purchased the Nina Ottosson puzzle "The Twister".  It was rated "hard" however, there were ways to start out at an easier level and then slowly up the difficulty so I felt like it might last a little longer.

Because all the food dispensing toys he's played with before work by getting thrown around the room, this was Langley's initial instinct of how to get the food out (which probably would have worked) so I had to hold the puzzle down.  But he quickly figured out that the food was behind the sliders and he went to work getting those pieces moving.

Because he is just learning the puzzle, to start with I removed all the little bone pegs that lock the sliders in place. That would just be too tough and frustrating with him first starting out.

He did great and LOVES the puzzle.  In fact he loves it so much that we have to put it away when he isn't watching or he'll obsess about figuring out how to get the closet open so he can get the puzzle out again.

This is going to be a fun game that we can play together and because I'm such a dog nerd, I find it fascinating to see how he problem solves and am excited to see how he does when we start adding the pegs. 
Well, adding all but one peg. Langley would like to provide this public service photo to show that puzzle toys are something you work on together with your dog. Dogs shouldn't be left unattended while playing with a puzzle, both for the puzzle's safety as well as their own.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Sights and Smells of Soggy

The third week of November is statistically the wettest week in Western Washington and it looks like 2012 is going to follow the pattern. When we woke up yesterday morning it was pouring and had been for quite awhile it seemed. The dogs were not happy about  soggy potty breaks and for the last trip outside before I left for work there was a total boycott by the four-footed ones so back they went into their crates.  It was a nasty day full of rain, wind, power outages, and damp, cold temperatures. However, the rain slowed down a few times to a light drizzle.
Neah out in the yard and enjoying the new sights, textures, and smells of a gray, rainy day

After work and during such a break, I took a chance to get out and let Neah run around a bit. While she isn't fond of full on rain, she was fine with the drizzle and quite fascinated with all the new smells that the rain brings out.
Checking out the Juniper shrub
Sniffing to see if there is anything interesting in the lithodora
Helping cut back the perennials
There was a lot of snuffling around and a few surprising wrestling matches with shrubs.

She was pretty sure there was something hiding in the Japanese Sedge
And then she had an all out wrestling match with a Western Sword Fern
Then it started to rain a bit harder.  And more importantly, she saw something...

All alert and checking out what she sees moving in the window
What could it be?  Or who?
Down in the salal patch for a better view (and to get out of the rain under the Douglas Fir trees)

It was poor, lonely Langley. He was ready for his buddy to be back inside.

So it was back inside for the day's 38th round of bitey-face wrestling on the couch.

Life is good.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The 1000th great story

Each dog that New Rattitude saves has a story, but since many of these dogs are strays or from big shelters, we'll never know their past. We try to guess, but who knows if we are correct. Some of the New Rattitude foster dogs' back stories are incredibly dramatic and heartbreaking - dogs purposely burned, left to die on the side of the road after being hit by a car, starving to death... It goes on and on and on and sometimes it just feels soul killing to live in a world where these things happen.

I want to put a suggestion out there, though. Let's not define these dogs by their past or the terrifying things they might have gone through.  Let's not get so sucked up in the drama and the heartbreak that we forget that they now have a chance at a bright, happy future.  See the dog: the ability to survive the worst that humankind can dish out and still greet a person with pure joy and happiness. I mean, can you really, truly wrap your mind around how incredible that is?! That they have the resiliency to move past fear and still find joy in each moment? That they can look past our weaknesses and just embrace the moment and the happiness that can be found there in the sharing of time and space with another living being? If we slow down and step out of that circle where we are the center of our little universes, we could learn so much from them.

As a New Rattitude foster parent I get the opportunity to take part in changing a dog's story;  Redrafting a life from one of neglect to a new happy tale of being a loved and cherished family member. And I'm very proud that last week New Rattitude hit the milestone of its 1000th creation of a happy story since the group was formed in the summer of 2008.  The amount of time and energy and love that New Rattitude's volunteers give to these little dogs is really an amazingly wonderful thing.

Salish's "New Dog" packet: Foster parents receive a packet for each new foster dog. It includes, a microchip, dewormer, a martingale collar, and a NR ID tag with the dog's identifying number.

Recently my current foster girl Neah received an adoption application that looks like a really great fit for her.  And like I often do, I took that chance that it would work out and okayed my friend Lynn to pull a big beautiful Rat Terrier from a shelter to be my next foster dog. This dog probably didn't have a chance of making it out without rescue, not because there's anything wrong with her, but just because there are more dogs in that shelter than can ever find a home.  I named her Salish, after a pretty body of water in NW WA/SW British Columbia: the Salish Sea. It's named for the Coastal Salish Peoples,  several Native American Tribal groups in the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest.

Salish Sea, photo by Jim Teblun
And just like that, Lynn and I started to change this Rat Terrier's journey.  I logged her into our group's "ratabase" and unbeknownst to me at the time, she became New Rattitude's 1000th story.

She's not much different than a lot of the 1000 dogs that New Rattitude has rescued: a stray who ended up in a shelter with many more dogs than homes that would take them.  Nothing was wrong with her. She just had the bad luck to turn up as part of a sad statistic. I won't get to meet her for another couple of weeks until Neah heads home. In the meantime Salish is hanging with Lynn's crew.  She's a 24 pound large standard or "giant" rat terrier with a pretty tuxedo coat and heart shaped markings on her face, just a baby really at about 10 months old. She's built like a tank and loaded with muscle. An amazingly exquisite gal, in my opinion. She's also proven to be easy going and good with other dogs big and small.

Sweet Salish. Stay tuned for more posts about Salish coming to you here in December

Why did Salish's story get to be turned into one with a happy ending? Well, because Neah's future people chose to adopt rather than buy and in doing that they created the space for another dog to be saved. And Samish's new family did the same for Neah. Each family who adopts has saved two lives: the one they adopt, and the one that gets to move into that open foster spot they created by adopting a rescue.

So spread the word. Adopt a dog. Talk about your rescued dog and the many more who are out there waiting to be saved. Better yet, join me and start on the life changing journey of taking thrown away dogs and giving them a chance to find their happy ending.  Who knows? You may end up being a part of New Rattitude's 2000th great story.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chew, chew, chew

Some folks think that when you say a dog is a "chewer" that it's a bad thing.  Not at all. It just all depends what they're chewing on, I suppose.  I personally think that if a dog chewed up your shoe or your tennis racket or a tube of lip gloss that you should be shouting "BAD HUMAN" because hey, if you have a dog you need to learn to pick up after yourself.

That's not to say that you have to clear your house of anything that isn't nailed down. But make sure you give your dog something tastier and more interesting to chew on than your shoe. I mean is that really that tough?  Not to negate the troubles of those of you with compulsive chewers or dogs with destructive chewing due to high anxiety.  But when I hear customers complain about a dog destroying things, 9 times out of 10 it's because they've got a young, teething dog or a dog in a temporary stressful situation and they haven't provided them with something appropriate to chew.  So many times I want to say "you idiot! Why would you think your 9 month old puppy would just know that the expensive leather boots you left lying in the entryway are any different than the cow ear you gave her yesterday.  Both are pretty beefy delicious."  But I don't - the customer is always right and all that crap.
Hiding out behind the coffee table with her antler stash

Okay, done with the lecture and back to a cute young dog who likes to chew.  I'd first like to praise Neah for being very appropriate with her chewing and thank her for only carrying around the goose down slipper that I stupidly forgot next to the sliding glass door when taking Langley out for a potty break and not chewing it open.

Enjoying the prize antler while trying to make sure Langley doesn't steal it

Neah LOVES anything that was specifically designed to chew on.  She doesn't even really chew on Langley's stuffed animals, rubber squeakie balls, or even some of Frodo's tough tug and fetch type toys.  But that girl loves antlers, bones, and Nylabones.  She'll drag one somewhere that she's least likely to be spotted by Langley, chew on it for a few minutes and then go root through the toy basket to pick out another to add to her pile.  When she was temping at a foster home in California, I hear that she would wander the fenced 5 acres and find every bone or stick that other dogs had left behind and then lay down on her pile of loot for a good chew.

Testing out the chewiness of a JW Holey Roller ball

Is she so perfect that she would never chew on anything inappropriate? No way.  She's a real live 10-12 month old dog and chewing is what they do.  But given the choice of a chair leg or an antler, she'll pick the antler everytime if you make sure she knows where to find it. She's no different than the majority of young dogs - if you set them up to succeed, how can they help but do anything else?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Getting to "adoptable"

Sigh.  Double sigh.  That's always what happens when I even think of getting Langley listed on adoption Websites as up for adoption.  It's not because I can't let go of him - lord knows I'm ready for him to find a home of his own. It's just I feel a lot of pressure (self-induced) to make sure that he ends up in a home that can not just handle his issues, but can continue to build on the immense progress he's made over the last several months and really dedicate themselves to learning how to adjust their lives a bit to living with Langley. 

Anyone who's followed Langley's story knows that there're a lot of things about Langley that could be considered negative.  And when I try to list the pros in my head, they are so tough to find words to adequately describe. He's gorgeous and athletic, and incredibly intelligent, and he's.... um...."loveable"? It makes me tear up because what makes Langley so wonderful and incredible and truly worth saving, can't really be put into words. A person needs to spend about 30 minutes with him (there needs to be enough time for his initial excitement to die down) and then they will see and feel what is truly amazing about this dog and he will have wormed his way into their heart. 

So while he's a 10-15 year project and you would need to put away all your breakable, valuable things and invest in a Spotbot carpet cleaner, take it from someone who has lived with him: he is truly amazing and a journey with Langley is one worth taking.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Trials and Tribulations of a Dog Named Frodo

Frodo is a curmudgeon.  Not because he's 7 years old - that's really not that old for a Rat Terrier - but because he was born a curmudgeon. He's a glass-half-full kind of guy and it can be tough for such a pessimist to spend his life with a lot of untrained dogs, most larger than he is, tearing around with "his" loot.

He's been dealing with it for 5 years now and if he could talk, he'd tell you of the years of unfairness that he's endured and how he never gets the good treats and toys because the fosters always get them....  But he can't talk so too bad, so sad, Frodo.  I know that seems heartless but in spite of the high volume of moaning (read high pitched yapping) that comes out of his mouth, this dog has got it pretty dang good. There are more toys in his toy box right now than some human kids see in their entire childhood and even with my employee discount at work his food and supplements probably cost more than what I spend on myself for groceries.

He's the dog of my heart in spite of his pissiness, or maybe because of it, and the fact remains that a whole lot of dogs are alive today because he wrapped me around his finger. I fell in love with the breed so much that I wanted to help save them by fostering. 

He'd probably tell you different, but I'm pretty sure he would be lost without having the fosters around to bitch at. Lord knows he'd have a lot fewer goodies to steal out of their crates. 

Read through the following scenario, one that happens repeatedly in our house to get an idea of the trials and tribulations of this dog named Frodo:

Oh so quietly lying on the couch with food toys, stolen from Neah's crate, Frodo attempts to inconspicuously finish removing the buffalo pate from inside that Neah became distracted from and left unattended.
With a look of concern, Frodo has spied a dangerous tornado approaching
A black spotted 37 pound tornado of dog meat
And it just keeps getting worse. Now the tornado has reached the couch and come dangerously close to the prized (stolen) stuffed Tizzi toy.
Time to show them who's the boss.
Phew! This time the blurry storm that is Neah and Langley has passed and left his loot untouched, but you never know what will happen next time it circles back in his direction.